Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wednesday May 29 Ag News

JBS USA Announces Nearly $100M Investment at Grand Island Beef Production Facility

JBS USA, a leading U.S.-based, global food company, today announced a $95 million expansion project at its Grand Island, Neb., beef production facility. The project includes new, improved animal handling facilities, a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled harvest floor and facility reconfiguration designed to improve team member experience, food safety and product quality.

The 107,000 square-foot expansion and facility enhancements will better position the company to sustainably meet evolving customer and consumer expectations for high-quality, great-tasting U.S. beef products. This expansion project has already begun and is anticipated to be completed in early 2021. Operations at Grand Island will continue uninterrupted throughout project execution.

"Today’s announced expansion is an important strategic investment to secure Grand Island as an unquestioned leader in food quality, animal care and beef innovation for years to come,” said Tim Schellpeper, JBS USA Fed Beef President. “Around the world, from North and South America to Asia and Africa, consumers crave the superior taste and quality of American beef. Partnering with leading Nebraska and other area beef producers, we are proud to invest in a vibrant future for U.S. beef.”

Located in the heart of American cattle country in central Nebraska, JBS Grand Island partners with more than 670 local producers to export U.S. beef to more than 30 countries around the world, including Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Singapore, under such signature brands as 1855 Black Angus©, Swift© and Swift Black Angus©. The expansion project will allow the company to strategically capitalize on increased international demand forecasts for high-quality U.S. beef and value-added beef products.

“JBS Grand Island has been a standard-bearer for American beef for over half a century,” said Zack Ireland, Grand Island Plant Manager. “Our team sends the best U.S. beef products the country has to offer to customers both domestically and globally. Today’s announcement strengthens our long-standing commitment to local farmers and ranchers, our team members, key customers and the community of Grand Island, whose support has been critical to our ongoing success.”


Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) today urged Congress to support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement; a bipartisan treaty that benefits American farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers by fixing longstanding imbalances and cutting regulations. This trade agreement will grant American farmers and businesses greater freedom to sell their goods and products throughout North America without the interference of government appropriations.

“Failure to bring this approval to the floor would put American farmers and workers at risk. As a nation of free trade, we must do what is best for America,” said Rep. Bacon. “To do this, non-tariff barriers and unfair subsidies must be eliminated and replaced. USMCA offers a fairer playing field for America. Every change in this agreement is better than NAFTA. I urge Congress to bring this to the House floor for approval.”

Rep. Bacon is a member of the House Agriculture Committee which has general jurisdiction over federal agriculture policy including agriculture, forestry, nutrition, water conservation, and other agriculture-related fields. The Committee can recommend funding appropriations for various governmental agencies, programs, and activities, as defined by House rules.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Wet, muddy pastures require special grazing techniques.

As this year’s wet weather continues, most pastures are soft and wet.  Grazing can quickly get these pastures muddy and damaged by hoof traffic.

Use special grazing techniques to limit damage in soft, muddy pastures.  The worst thing you can do is graze a pasture for several days until it’s all torn up and then move to a new area.  Trampling that occurs repeatedly over several days greatly weakens plants; doing this across a wide area can reduce production for months, even years.

In contrast, pastures muddied up by grazing only briefly usually recover quickly.  Maybe not as fast as when the ground is solid, but fast enough to minimize yield or stand loss.

Take advantage of this rapid recovery by moving animals frequently, at least once a day, to a new area.  This might require subdividing pastures with temporary electric fences to increase the number of new areas you can move cattle into.  Fencing supplies you use around corn stalks during winter should work well for this temporary use.  Once the ground firms up you can return to your normal grazing rotation.

Another option is to graze all your cattle together in one small ‘sacrifice’ area until the rest of your pasture ground gets solid again, feeding hay if needed.  This protects most of your pasture acres from trampling losses.  But it can virtually destroy the area grazed so it might need reseeding.  This may be a small price to pay, though, to protect the rest of your acres.

Don’t let mud and trampling ruin your pastures.  Temporary grazing adjustments can save grass now and for the future.


Do you plan to use summer annual forages to boost pasture or hay supplies this year?  If so, get your seed soon before supplies get tight.

Hay supplies started out this spring at record low amounts.  In many states, alfalfa winterkill was much higher than average, which means hay production could be lower than usual this summer.  The wet, cold spring has compromised pasture and hay field growth.  It also has played havoc with planting crops throughout the corn belt, causing some farmers to change their planting plans, sometimes to include planting more summer annual forages.

Put this all together and what could happen?  More summer annual forages planted to rebuild hay supplies.  Summer annual forages planted to replace lost alfalfa hay acres.  Plantings of summer annual forages to boost pasture availability.  And summer annual forages planted when it gets too late to plant anything else.

Get the picture?  Demand for summer annual forage seed could be high.  So – if you think you might want or need to plant some summer annual forage grasses this year after wheat, in regular cropland, or wherever and have not already obtained your seed, do it soon.  Waiting until the last minute could limit your choices.

There was a good seed supply to begin this season, especially when you consider all the choices – sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, forage sorghum, teff, pearl millet, foxtail millet, and Japanese millet.  But that can change quickly.

These summer annual forage grasses can be a great resource and insurance that you have enough feed for your livestock.  But you first need the seed to take advantage of their potential.

Climate Assessment Response Committee to Meet

Amelia Breinig, assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, has scheduled a meeting of the Climate Assessment Response Committee (CARC) for June 4. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. in room 901, Hardin Hall, on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.

Officials will brief CARC members on existing, as well as predicted, weather conditions and provide a water availability outlook.

For more details, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341.

Organic Agronomy Training Series to Feature Iowa State Faculty

Organic producers and service providers can participate in a three-state training opportunity, known as The Organic Agronomy Training Series (OATS) Collaborative, Aug. 14-15 in La Crosse, while also hearing from an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialist.

The program will offer a science-based education for agricultural professionals including agronomists, technical service providers, extension staff, agency personnel, educators and farmers – both organic and those interested in transitioning to organic.

“OATS is the first combined effort between Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota to target educators or service providers who work with transitioning farmers,” said Kathleen Delate, professor and organic extension specialist in horticulture and agronomy at Iowa State University.

Delate will speak Aug. 14 on “Pest Management in Organic Grain Systems.” The first day also includes classroom workshops on organic certification, crop rotations, nutrient and pest management, as well as markets.

The second day will include a field trip to local organic farms where hands-on training in basic and innovative organic practices, including organic no-till, will be demonstrated.

Presentations will show attendees how to guide farmers through the transition to U.S. Department of Agriculture organic compliance, including weed management, insect and disease management, fertility strategies and designing rotations to benefit both agronomic and economic goals.

Participants can network with other organic-focused professionals and visit a nearby organic operation for experiential learning.

The training is supported by Pipeline Foods, Clif Bar and the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Grains Council, in partnership with Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Albert Lea Seed Co., and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES).

The training will be held at the Radisson Hotel, 200 Second St. South, 200 Harborview Plaza in La Crosse. The cost of the two-day training is $85.

Registration is available at More information, including workshop descriptions, is available on the Organic Agronomy Training Series website

Urea Continues to Shift Higher

Retail urea prices increased 5% compared to last month while the rest of the retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN were mixed.

According to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of May 2019, urea had an average price of $428/ton, up $20 from the same time last month.

Five other fertilizers were higher than last month, although the move to the high side was fairly muted. DAP had an average price of $497/ton, fractionally higher; potash $392/ton, up $4; 10-34-0 $487/ton, up $4; anhydrous $595/ton, up $1; and UAN28 $270/ton, up $2.

The remaining two fertilizers were slightly lower compared to last month but again the move lower was small. MAP had an average price of $527/ton, down $3, and UAN32 $314/ton, down $1.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.47/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.49/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher. DAP is 3% higher, MAP is 4% more expensive, both potash and 10-34-0 are all 11% higher, UAN28 is 12% more expensive; UAN32 is 14% higher and both urea and anhydrous are now 18% more expensive compared to last year.

Late Planting with Grain Sorghum Could Provide Farmers Opportunity

Grain sorghum is one crop option that can provide opportunity to growers in regions impacted by historically adverse weather during the 2019 planting season. As wet conditions persist for farmers across the U.S., producers calculating options as major crop plant deadlines loom need to keep the following considerations in mind when planting grain sorghum.

Grain sorghum can typically be planted later than other crops, and sorghum is a lower risk option, specifically as it relates to seed costs. For example, sorghum seed typically costs $9-$18 per acre depending on seeding rate, while corn seed typically costs $55-$110 an acre depending on seeding rate and traits. Harvest costs are often lower, as well.

“Grain sorghum provides a number of benefits to growers as we enter a replant and late/prevent plant time period for the 2019 growing season,” said Brent Bean, Sorghum Checkoff agronomist, Ph.D. “There is typically a yield benefit for soybeans, cotton and corn when planted after sorghum. In addition, its root system is often able to penetrate compacted soils and can reduce diseases and nematodes that plague other crops.”

From a demand standpoint, despite ongoing negotiations and tariff restrictions with China, the U.S. has sold multiple vessels to China in the last month. NSP CEO Tim Lust said this demand and market signals offer optimism for global feed grain needs like sorghum.

“Despite trade uncertainty, demand for feed grain remains strong across the globe,” Lust said. “Furthermore, anticipated feed grain shortages from areas impacted by adverse planting weather will create significant localized demand for additional starch sources like sorghum. We continue to receive feedback from ethanol plants and other end-users about the need to fill gaps in supply this winter. Some have already posted sorghum bids, and others are strongly considering doing so.”

Growers should also consider that current guidance from USDA shows in order to collect a Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payment, farmers must plant a program crop or alfalfa. Final plant dates for crop insurance vary by region, but growers can contact their local insurance agent for insurance coverage and options. Sorghum also works well as a cover behind prevented planting, and resources on this provision are available from the USDA Risk Management Agency.

Additional agronomic and marketing resources, including information on Sorghum Management Following a Wet Winter and Spring, Pre-emergence Weed Control, Fertilizing Grain Sorghum, Seeding Rate, sorghum marketing connections, Sorghum Checkoff marketing staff, are available at

For information on local bids or additional information, producers can contact National Sorghum producers at 800-658-9808.

Canada Introduces Legislation to Ratify North American Trade Pact

Canada's Liberal government on Wednesday introduced legislation that would ratify the revised version of the North American free-trade pact, moving ahead less than two weeks after the Trump administration lifted tariffs on the country's steel and aluminum exports.

The announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes hours before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits Ottawa on Thursday to discuss the trade treaty, now referred to as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It is intended to replace NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement, which President Trump criticized as flawed and in need of improvement.

"With the tariffs now lifted, the members of this house can now move to begin the ratification process of the new Nafta," Trudeau said in a statement in Canada's legislature.

Canada is the largest foreign supplier of steel and aluminum to the U.S., according to trade data. Canadian officials linked ratification to the removal of metals tariffs.

Earlier this week, Canada's legislature passed by a wide margin, 255-47, a government motion that formally kick-started the ratification process. The support to get a ratified trade pact exists, but the government has been coy about when a vote would be called.

Trudeau and others have said Canada wants to move "in tandem" with the U.S. and Mexico. The timing of ratification in Congress remains uncertain, as the Trump administration will require support from a sizable number of Democrats. An increasingly personal clash between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has raised questions about whether the two can collaborate on legislation.

In Mexico, there is no clear timeline for ratification from that country's senate, but the process is widely expected to be smooth and get multipartisan support.

Ratification of the trade agreement in Canada could be complicated by this fall's election. The legislature is scheduled to end its current session late next month, with lawmakers and political aides expected to begin preparations for the Oct. 21 national election.


The Fuels Institute FUELS2019 conference in Dallas provided attendees with the opportunity to take a deep dive into topics around internal combustion engines, the future of retail, biofuels and more. FUELS2019 explored the market through a series of panel discussions and presentations that evaluated the pressures from the environment, government regulations and consumer behavior.

“This was a great opportunity to build new relationships, especially with the members of the retail community,” said Director of Renewable Fuels Mark Palmer. “Gaining insights from the various sectors represented at the conference helps us better understand the challenges and opportunities we have for getting more ethanol into the marketplace.”

There were roughly 150 participants in attendance from all aspects of the liquid transportation industry including retailers, refiners, auto manufacturers, ethanol producers and RIN traders.

The National Corn Growers Association was a sponsor of the event, providing participants with the opportunity to “refuel” their phones at charging stations. NCGA Manager of Renewable Fuels Peter Magner also attended the conference.

Economics of Soil Health to be Assessed across North America

Management practices that improve soil health can be good for the farm and the environment, but farmers need information on economics when deciding whether to adopt these practices.  To address this critical issue, Cargill and the Soil Health Institute have announced a new partnership to assess, demonstrate and communicate the economics of soil health management systems across North America. 

"At Cargill, we're committed to helping farmers increase their productivity so that we can nourish a growing population. We work with partners like The Soil Health Institute to give farmers the tools and resources they need to bring greater sustainability to their operations, while ensuring their productivity," said Ryan Sirolli, global row crop sustainability director, Cargill. "Farmers are looking for a more robust picture of the economic benefits of investing in soil health on their farms. By partnering with the Soil Health Institute, we will be able to provide the research and insight they need to understand how investing in soil health can provide both financial and environmental benefits. Together, we can help farmers build drought resilience, increase yield stability, reduce nutrient loss and increase carbon sequestration."

"The most desirable information on how soil health affects profitability comes from real-world, on-farm data.  However, a challenge is that every farm is different, making it difficult to know how repeatable results are from one farm to another," said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, CEO of the Soil Health Institute.  "Insight into how reproducible results are across different soils, climate zones, and production systems can be obtained with experimental research plots; recognizing that research plots are very different from farms."

"The bottom line is that when it comes to assessing economics, both types of information are useful - the research experiment and the farmer experience," said Dr. Cristine Morgan, Chief Scientific Officer of the Soil Health Institute.  "That is why we are using a two-pronged approach for assessing profitability of soil health systems that integrates results from research sites with those experienced by nearby farmers," she added.

Supported by an $850,000 grant from Cargill, Dr. Morgan will lead the Soil Health Institute's Agricultural Economist in developing enterprise budgets to compare profitability of soil health-promoting systems with conventional management systems on approximately 100 farms near 120 research sites across North America.  "This will significantly expand our existing partnership with the National Association of Conservation Districts and USDA-NRCS for understanding profitability of soil health systems," added Morgan.

"Together, Cargill and the Soil Health Institute can address the single most influential factor affecting adoption of soil health systems ─ the economic impact on farmers. This partnership will produce more meaningful and profitable programs for growers and accelerate adoption so that agriculture can be part of the solution to the environmental challenges we face," added Sirolli.

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